How do I look younger? This is the $250 billion question (worldwide). Aging has had a negative connotation since the beginning of time. It is no surprise that the “anti-aging” market has been so successful. In HCMC, there are at least 12 “anti-aging” businesses.
By definition, the term “anti-aging” is designed to prevent the appearance of growing older. We want to preserve a youthful appearance. The proverbial “fountain of youth” may only be a legend, but it is the goal of today’s abundance of age-fighting products and procedures that the promise you your youth back. Although there is no question that preserving a vibrant, youthful appearance is an ideal, the question remains: Is aging really only skin deep? And, if not, is the anti-aging market missing the mark?
Age Management-Wellness: A Better Approach
Interestingly, of all the products, services, and devices out there, not one emphasizes optimizing health to manage physiological deterioration. Anti-aging services target only the visible effects of aging, without targeting their underlying causes – and therefore completely overlook wellness as a whole. This is the real key to being physiologically younger.
Nothing truly has “anti-aging” powers. Age is an inevitable fact of life; each person has been doing it since they reached maturity: by age 25 the process of aging has begun. Thus, there is actually no such thing as “anti-aging”.
Actual aging is not just a single process, though it is often summed up as “just getting old”. What actually occurs to our bodies as we age?
The process of aging goes on without notice throughout the 20s and 30s. We notice changes by middle-age and later. For women, a significant process of aging – menopause – occurs relatively abruptly in comparison to a man’s slow deterioration with age. In either case, by the time men and women are middle-aged, significant biomarkers of aging are commonly affected, ranging from hormone production to the ability to deliver oxygenated blood to muscle tissue. These characteristics of aging, along with diseases of aging (heart disease, metabolic disorders, etc.) affect all individuals. Basically, our bodies cannot replace cells as rapidly and our metabolic and restorative processes slow down.
This does not mean that we must accept what frequently comes with age: feeling tired, gaining weight, lacking energy for exercise, less strength and flexibility, less energy, or living in persistent discomfort and unhappiness.
For those whose aim is to postpone the aging process, the rewards extend far beyond the image of youthfulness alone. It is all about achieving optimal health: this is what delays the effects of aging.
This is precisely where age management – a more realistic and effective approach to overcoming the challenges of aging – comes in. The age management approach is highly personalized according to the individual’s distinct needs. It is in the highest sense of the word, “preventive”. To be truly preventive, it must be proactive healthcare. Just as we “prevent” an accident by “proactively” avoiding the risk, we can manage our aging process proactively and preventively.
First, the individual must be very carefully studied in great detail to detect problems that may be lurking and address them before they get out of control and defeat the purpose of delaying the aging process. Part of this detailed evaluation is study of fitness, strength, mental acuity and life satisfaction, need for better diet and possible supplements, and evaluation of hormonal status. Then a program is put together to optimize all elements.
The 5 pillars of proactive, optimized health to slow aging are:
- Proper and curated exercise. Exercise needs to address specific areas of physical fitness that need improvement, based on data. A program is designed to bring about improvement on an ongoing basis.
- Diet. In general, the diet should be anti-inflammatory, as low-grade inflammation is at the root of much of the age-related deterioration. A low carbohydrate diet emphasizing plant-based foods with very low processed foods and animal meat is best. Fish for protein is excellent.
- Mental health . Mental function often deteriorates with age but it does not have to. Generally, a healthy diet and exercise address many of these aging mental issues. Good work-life harmony and happiness contribute tremendously.
- Dietary Supplements. These are vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet covers much of this need, but sometimes certain supplements are helpful in individual cases. However, it is possible to overdose on several vitamins or minerals.
- Hormonal optimization. If your sex hormones, thyroid, or other hormones are too low, it can halt the progress in all the other areas. In many cases, these can be supplemented with a profound effect.
When a middle aged or older person embark on these life changes, they are very likely to feel younger and more vigorous within 2-4 weeks, and also have a tremendous boost in self-esteem.
You can’t stop age, but you can stop aging.
A Closer Look at Aging
Age Management – Based on Medical Science
Upon reaching physical maturity, the aging process begins in both men and women
In the past, health was recognized by the absence of disease. Now, however, the World Health Organization encourages us to take our approach to health further than disease prevention alone, stating that it is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.” Yet, despite the evolution of this definition throughout the last century, the model of traditional medicine is still a reactive one. In other words, most of us do not seek medical expertise until an apparent health issue has manifested. Likewise, significant medical attention is not prioritized until individual biomarkers are out of clinical ranges, by which point intervention – either invasive or noninvasive – is introduced.
Age Management – The Power of Prevention
Fast-forward 30 years: there are now countless initiatives in place supporting the exact opposite belief. Most notably, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is nearly a decade into its Healthy People 2020 program, which was launched in 2010. With more than 1,200 objectives across 42 topic areas, one of its critical pillars is to “attain high-quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury, and premature death.” With events like the Healthy Aging Summit and a specific objective of increasing the proportion of adults who are up-to-date on clinical preventive services, it’s clear that this – and many other programs – are in steadfast support of taking a risk-based, preventive approach to age management, versus a reactive one.
In 2014, Forbes published an article titled “The Huge, Neglected Opportunity for Proactive Medicine.” It draws attention to the fact that the U.S. healthcare system spends the majority of its resources – a whopping 80% – caring for the seriously ill. Proactive medicine, the author posits, is more challenging because it requires “really getting to know people and working with them over time to change their lives.”
Yet, focusing mainly on caring for diseases after they’ve been diagnosed versus preventing them proactively via preventive age management care only allows the vicious cycle to continue. Isn’t the preemptive quest for long-term health a better approach to take? That’s what age management doctors believe, which is why they help their patients improve across a broad range of wellness outcomes.